POSTED IN ARTICLES ON MONDAY, JUNE 7, 2021
Show your pride and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community.
June is Pride Month, a time to celebrate and recognize LGBTQ+ people. The celebration takes place in June to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which are widely considered the spark for the modern gay rights movement in the U.S.
To understand the Stonewall riots, consider how widespread discrimination and prejudice against the LGBTQ+ community was in this country within living memory. In many communities, it was illegal to hold hands, kiss or dance with someone of the same sex. Law enforcement kept lists of known homosexuals and their associates. The mere suggestion that a person was gay could lead to a loss of employment, denial of health care and physical violence. The gay community was used a political foil, with police raids of bars and other gathering places increasing during election years.
This systemic suppression came to a head when the New York City police raided The Stonewall Inn, a known gay bar in Greenwich Village, on June 28, 1969. While raids were commonplace, the reaction that night was not. A crowd began to assemble outside, and as patrons were violently arrested, those gathered began to fight back. The rioting continued for days as the LGBTQ+ community asserted their right to live openly – to live with pride.
The first pride parade was held a year later on the anniversary of the raid and riots. The rainbow flag made its debut in 1978 after San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk asked an artist, Gilbert Baker, to come up with a new symbol for gay pride. The original flag had eight stripes, though six is more common today. "Pink is for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sun. Green for nature, turquoise for magic, blue for serenity and purple for the spirit," Baker later said in a TV interview. "I like to think of those elements as in every person, everyone shares that."
Pride Month is important because discrimination continues today. Many states are targeting transgender people with laws around bathroom usage and health care access.
Everyone is welcome at Pride, regardless of LGBTQ+ identification. Join in local events to learn more about gay history and culture, be an ally, celebrate diversity and contribute to being a more inclusive society.
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